The panel featured representatives from the Muslim Students Association (MSA), the Sikh Students Association (SSA), the Atheist, Agnostic and Freethinkers of Waterloo (AAFWaterloo), the Coalition of Muslim Women of KW (CMW-KW) and Power to Change - UW. It was followed by an audience Question and Answer period also shown in the video.
The Quebec Charter of Values has sparked intense controversy in Quebec and has captured public attention across the country. If passed into law, the Charter will, among other things, ban workers in the broad public sector from wearing religious clothing at work including hijabs, turbans, yarmulkes, large crucifixes or, as the Charter states, any material that “overtly indicate[s] a religious affiliation.”
Its supporters, including the Parti Quebecois provincial government and at least one public sector union, argue that the Charter protects core Quebec values, enforces the separation of religion and State, enforces equality between men and women and provides a framework for “reasonable accommodation” of religious and cultural differences.
Led by groups such as the Association of Muslims and Arabs for a Secular Quebec and No One Is Illegal-Montreal, many Quebec civil society groups have opposed the Charter. They argue, among other things, that the Charter is discriminatory and xenophobic, that it will exclude religious and cultural groups from working in the broad public sector, that the Charter is sexist and paternalistic, and point out that Christian symbols such as the large cross in the Quebec parliament will remain in place. These groups have drawn attention to an increase in attacks against visible minorities, especially Muslims women who wear the hijab, since the debate on the Charter started.
The groups organizing this event are concerned about the impact the Charter is having in and beyond Quebec, including on our campus and in our local community. We have organized this event in order to understand better what is happening in Quebec and why, as well as to provide a forum for local members of communities most impacted by the Charter and the debate it has sparked, to express their views and concerns. Our hope is that this event will be a forum for informed discussion and that it will increase understanding of the Charter's impact on Canadian society.
Organized by the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group (WPIRG), the following University of Waterloo campus clubs (the Muslim Student Association, the Sikh Students Association, Students for Justice in Pakistan (SJP), the Atheist, Agnostic and Freethinkers of Waterloo) and the Coalition of Muslim Women - KW.
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